For some, this may not be the most wonderful time of the year.
Scotland already bears the burden of too many families facing the festive season having lost a child to suicide. This has to stop.
This Christmas morning, many families will awaken to the heartache of a child or young person who is no longer with them. Presents absent from beneath the tree, an empty chair at the table and a void where a stocking used to be. We are facing a mental health crisis in our young people – and we must do all we can to prevent more devastating and avoidable tragedies.
In 2022, 1 in 10 probable suicides involved a child or young person.(1) Suicide has been the leading cause of death among young people in Scotland from 2011 to 2020.(2) Over a third of young people report living with anxiety; the same number have either low mood or risk of depression.(3) This is the stark reality that all of us in Scotland face today. But, together, we can help our young people.
SAMH has been there for Scotland’s mental health for exactly 100 years – before the NHS was ever imagined. We know the importance of early intervention to prevent mental health crises in young people. By the time they’re 16, roughly three children in every class will have experienced a mental health problem. And thousands will struggle to get the help they need.
We have programmes in schools and we provide in-person and online support for parents who are worried about their children and want to help, but don’t know how. And, crucially, we offer a huge range of direct support to children and young people themselves – through many local projects, we run mental health information workshops for children, young people and adults and we develop resources such as our national information line and live chat services.
In a way, everything we do is to try and stop suicide. We’ve seen first-hand the changes that we’ve been able to make – and the lives we’ve been able to save.
Presents, Santa, chocolate, advent calendars are the cherished elements of Christmas that children and young people often adore. But we know for some of them, the festive season can trigger anxiety.
That’s why we’re expecting more calls from children, young people and adults to our information line, staffed by trained professionals. Being there to answer that call or message and just listening to someone; these are the things that could make all the difference to someone’s mental health.
It costs £22 to answer a young person’s call for support through our Information Service. Your gift could make sure these calls and messages are answered. Your support this year can ensure that we continue to be a lifeline for even more children and young people. Together we can make a lasting impact on mental health in Scotland.
Thank you for any donation you are able to give today.
If you, or someone you know, needs help or support, visit our Information Service.
You’re not alone. We’re here to help.
1. National Records of Scotland, Probable Suicides Report, 2022
2. https://www.publichealthscotland.scot/media/14883/20220906_scotsid_young_persons_report-final.pdf. Young people as determined by Public Health Scotland as aged between 5-24. Across this group 25.7% of all deaths were attributed to probable suicide.